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Gulf of Mexico oil spill won’t stop Shell drilling in Alaska


Royal Dutch Shell intends to push on with its plans for deepwater drilling off the coast of Alaska this summer, despite political hostility caused by BP’s catastrophic spill in US waters.

By Rowena Mason, City Reporter (Energy)
Published: 6:33AM BST 19 May 2010

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire in the Gulf of Mexico last month Photo: AP

President Barack Obama has requested extra safety assurances about Shell’s plans and halted new exploration in some areas, after the explosion at BP’s well in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago.

But Shell yesterday told investors at its annual meeting in the Hague that it plans to press ahead.

“We won’t drill in Alaska if we can’t do so safely and responsibly,” said Peter Voser. chief executive. “The characteristics of the fields are different to those in the Gulf of Mexico – less deep and there is less pressure. We intend to drill this summer if allowed.”

He added that growing demand for oil will mean deepwater drilling remains a necessity as the population of the developing world soars.

Last year Shell suffered an investor rebellion against high executive pay, with 60pc voting against the remuneration report. This time, just 2pc of shareholders objected, after the company overhauled its policies.

Only 6pc of investors backed a special resolution asking the company to review its investment in extracting oil from Canadian tar sands – which uses processes that emit a higher amount of carbon dioxide than conventional drilling. The group of “ethical investors” behind the motion, including the Co-operative Asset Managers, said they did not consider their highly-publicised campaign a defeat since it had raised awareness about environmental and cost concerns.

The annual meeting was instead dominated by questions about Shell’s environmental record in Nigeria, where green groups claim it has not addressed local concerns about water pollution, oil leaks, pipeline sabotage and gas flaring. Malcolm Brinded, director for upstream, said Shell “hopes” to end the controversial practice of burning excess gas during oil extraction but would not put a date on when this would happen. He said there was no evidence that flaring causes health issues, but acknowledged its high carbon emissions.

Amnesty International, the human rights body, mounted a high-profile newspaper advertising campaign against Shell’s pollution record, although the newspaper pulled it at the last minute citing legal concerns.


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